Judge Delays Trial of Jackson's Doctor

At the request of defense attorneys, a judge today delayed the trial of Michael Jackson's personal physician until September and said he will dismiss all of the prospective jurors who had filled out lengthy questionnaires.

Dr. Conrad Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with Jackson's 2009 death.

Murray's attorneys said Friday they wanted a delay so they can have their own experts review recently obtained reports involving new prosecution witnesses. They submitted a written motion to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor over the weekend.

Although attorneys requested only a two-week delay, Pastor opted for a longer delay to ensure that all pending issues can be resolved. Murray was in court for today's hearing, and he agreed to the postponement.

Prospective jurors had been scheduled to return to the downtown Los Angeles courthouse for questioning Wednesday, with opening statements set for May 9. According to Pastor, 171 prospective jurors had filled out questionnaires.

The defense's announcement Friday came hours after making an unsuccessful bid to exclude the prosecution from calling two new expert witnesses.

Lead defense attorney Edward Chernoff said the experts' reports were recently provided to the defense and promote "new theories" that were not brought into play at a six-day hearing in January, in which Murray was ordered to stand trial for the singer's death.

He noted that the defense would not be prepared to cross-examine one of the experts, described by one of the prosecutors as part of the "cornerstone" of the government's case.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren countered that the prosecution had sought out opinions from additional experts -- including a "preeminent anesthesiologist" who is expected to testify that Jackson could not have orally ingested propofol -- after receiving reports from the defense's experts.

"They're not new theories. They're more expansive as to the science," the prosecutor told Pastor. 

The judge denied the defense's motion to exclude the testimony, saying he did not see where the prosecution had acted in bad faith.

Pastor said he was "not surprised, quite frankly, by the situation," noting that he believed the issue would arise when Murray demanded his right to a speedy trial.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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